Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Importance of What You Say... And Who You Say It To

I have noticed, and this has been reaffirmed by Sifu indirectly as well as other sifus and teachers I've had in the past that it is very important to be careful of what you say about martial arts and who you say it to. When passing on wisdom/techniques that you have learned or discovered on your own, I have found that two scenarios often present themselves to me. From these scenarios I have learned that there are certain things you must always be mindful of.

Scenario 1 - The Kwoon

You are in a class setting and a fellow todai (of greater, equal or lessor rank than you) and yourself are paired and practicing a technique. You understand the functionality and reasoning of the technique quicker than your counterpart. In this situation you must be mindful that your are both todais under your sifu. So it is important to always run ideas by him/her first because they are the teacher and you are not. This goes regardless of prior experience. Any instruction you give should be in line with your kwoon philosophy. When dealing with a todai that is lower rank than you, you must keep in mind that they are still newer/less experienced with the kwoon than you are so care must be taken with each explanation. With todai of equal rank, I see it like this. You and that todai are at the same level in general according to your Sifu. Respect should be given with that in mind. For todai who are of greater rank than you, it is important to remember/remind the basics that they learned at your rank and that you are learning now. Simple is often better than a drawn out explanation. Overall it is important to remember that all of you are there to learn from the sifu as well as each other.

Scenario 2 - The Outside World

You are hanging out with friends who know you study some form of martial arts and they start to ask you questions about what you study and if you've ever had to use your training before. Some may even ask you to teach them something. Before even beginning to discuss anything you know you must keep this in mind. You know the character of your friends. You know how they will use what you teach them and you know that if they get into trouble from it, they learned what they did from you. You must also remember that you represent your kwoon when you teach on any level. Basically, assess character before instructing. Another thing I would interject, I am all for women being able to defend themselves, however from my experience, women can be just as volatile/unstable as men if not more so. The same level of caution on what you teach men should apply to women as well. If you know that your friends will be able to handle what you show them and you can vouch for their level of maturity, the absolute basics are perfectly fine to teach someone outside of the kwoon. Any and all techniques that you learn in the advanced ranks should only be taught by sifu or yourself with sifu's permission within the kwoon. This is for your safety just as much as theirs. Too many times have I seen fellow martial artists show their girlfriend or boyfriend a technique to defend themselves and ended up with that person misusing it or hurting someone that they did not intend to. Keep in mind that we study martial arts. Military. Even the militaries of our country don't tell you everything that they know how to do or talk about what they have done. For us, it is out of respect for Sifu and our fellow todai that we keep certain things to ourselves outside of the kwoon. Be mindful of this as we promote our kwoon and the martial arts as a whole.

The level of discernment needed to make these distinctions is great. I am still striving towards this and I know I have made these mistakes in the past. As we continue our study and as we learn, we grow in our understanding of these ideas. This is not impossible. It just takes time, experience and strength of spirit to reach that level.

7 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you especially to the fact that not everybody should learn how to fight. Yes, I am also for women who want to defend themselves but you have to be aware of the women you are teaching just like you would have to be careful of the men you teach. I also know some of my friends that I would not teach how to fight. For example, I know one of my cousin cannot control her temper. Imagine how dangerous she can be if she learn how to fight! She will be too much of a danger to her surroundings so she might as well not be exposed to the fighting techniques at all.

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  2. I think you can age out of this dilemma. When I was young, yeah... advertising that I was practicing martial arts led to much interest in proof and demonstration. Now, with ever-more greying hair, I wear FMK apparel all the time and practice outright open in the park, and nobody asks a thing

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    1. I feel like it is possible to age out. But I also believe that provided the proper training and life experiences that with age comes wisdom. Wisdom imparts the capacity to know what to do with the knowledge you have gained.

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  3. Great post Charlie! I'm very glad that you had taken the time to express your experiences on this matter. It is extremely important, as we build the foundation to FMK, the stronger the foundation, in the future, with new Todai's, they will make better decisions because they will have better guidance from their seniors. Thank you for sharing and keep it coming! And the Zip Hoodies are in!

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    1. Awesome!! I can't wait to see what they look like :)

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